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Tory MPs 'prepare to defy Cameron over EU vote'

As many as 100 Tory MPs could be preparing to defy the party leadership by making a personal pledge to vote for a British exit from the EU in an in/out referendum.

The Independent reports that the eurosceptics are prepared to promise to vote 'No' to EU membership regardless of what concessions David Cameron can win from Brussels.

The Prime Minister has pledged to renegotiate the terms of British membership and then give the British people an in/out referendum in 2017.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said a by-election win for his party in Clacton would signal a "landslide in British politics" as an opinion poll indicated that the Tories would face a humiliating defeat in the contest triggered by Douglas Carswell's shock defection.

Mr Farage, who said the party was "testing the waters" with other potential turncoats - including from Labour - predicted Ukip could hold the balance of power in Parliament.

A Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday gave Ukip a massive 44 point lead over David Cameron's party and Mr Farage predicted that a win would result in "more and more people coming over to us".

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Ukip candidate for Clacton vows to fight Carswell

Ukip's general election candidate for Clacton has vowed to fight Douglas Carswell for the party's nomination in the upcoming by-election.

Roger Lord said he would "absolutely" fight for the nomination. "I have been assured I will get a fair hearing," he told Radio 4's Today programme.

Douglas Carswell, the Conservative MP who defected to UKIP, with party leader Nigel Farage. Credit: Toby Melville/Reuters

Asked whether he would step aside to make way for Mr Carswell, Mr Lord replied, "We are not a party that stands down. We don't bend, we don't break. We fight."

Mr Lord also accused Mr Carswell of jumping ship from the Conservatives because the water was "around his ankles".

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